ART BY KAYTE CHIEN
By CAROL LI
Black Friday: the day where America takes the mantra “shop till you drop” to the extreme.
This holiday allows customers to purchase various items, ranging from electronics to clothes, at a tremendous discounted price. Obviously, people do not sleep on these deals and many hardcore shoppers arrive at stores on Thanksgiving night simply to grab their prized possessions first.
While there are a variety of people who enjoy the consumerist holiday, many also criticize the excessive shopping culture it promotes because it takes away the values of the holiday season such as spending time with and being grateful for one’s family.
However, as Black Friday has come to represent today’s materialistic society, it also highlights the numerous benefits that consumerism can bring to both customers and businesses.
For example, the holiday is followed by Christmas, one of the most festive times for gift giving. In a way, Black Friday promotes this same sense of giving, as many are able to take advantage of its record-breaking low prices to purchase gifts for loved ones. Not only can people save an immense amount of money, they can also focus more on picking gifts based off of appropriateness for the person, rather than the affordability.
Additionally, Black Friday kickstarts a shopping season that is crucial to the American economy; in fact, the National Retail Federation reports that 30% of annual retail sales are made during Black Friday and Christmas. The increase in sales not only directly benefits businesses but also employees. During the busy holiday season, companies have a higher demand for employees. As spots open up, people who are looking for a job have a better chance to get hired, granting many individuals with a stable job.
Furthermore, Black Friday allows businesses to reach a larger group of customers. Since customers are looking to find the best offers, they may discover new stores, which can give companies struggling with sales a rare chance to gain massive publicity and profits. Although struggling companies are not able to afford the biggest deals, a massive, national shopping holiday like Black Friday curates exposure for numerous stores that may not have the best publicity.
However, many opponents argue that Black Friday encourages people to shop only at large companies, ultimately excluding small businesses from attracting customers. Although this dilemma may have been prevalent a decade ago, the shopping holiday has recently been extended to one more day: Small Business Saturday. On this day, customers are encouraged to support the local stores that make their communities unique. From pop-up markets to food festivals, these activities undoubtedly attract large crowds. So, Black Friday is not necessarily pushing local stores out of business, but rather promoting these companies by getting more people into the mood of shopping.
Another benefit of Black Friday toward consumers is its improved organization. In previous years, many stores would only offer its deals on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Because there are so many alternatives for Black Friday such as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, there is less of an appeal to crowd shopping areas on Friday. Due to this, lines are shorter and inventory is larger, making the shopping experience more enjoyable for consumers. Customers are more inclined to participate on Black Friday because the improved organization allows them to shop effortlessly without added stress factors that may have been present in past years.
As a result, society should not frown upon this holiday simply because it caters to one’s materialistic obsession, but rather understand that it demonstrates methods of “consumerism done right” during the holiday season.